The Path to Priesthood
A priest is an ordained leader who is called to serve a community as pastor, worship leader and teacher, and to take a share in the councils of the Church. A priest proclaims by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, cares alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor, preaches, declares God’s forgiveness, pronounces God’s blessing, and shares in the administration of Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist. (BCP pg. 531)
- Read Paths to Discipleship, an outline of discernment and formation in the Diocese of Virginia.
- Read The Characteristics of Effective Clergy.
Not looking for postulancy application materials?
- Go to Vestry Letter templates
- Go to Candidacy Application
- Go to Pre-Ordination Approval (Transitional Diaconate)
Applying for Postulancy
Before applying for postulancy, seekers in the Diocese of Virginia spend time in community discerning what God is calling them to and how they might best answer that call. Information on vocational discernment.
Once the seeker's parish discernment committee completes its work, the seeker may begin applying for postulancy with the support of his/her presenting priest. The presenting priest should email Sarah Kye Price and Gloria Parham to request a contact from the Committee on Priesthood. The contact will assist the seeker in applying for postulancy.
Postulancy Interview Dates
Aspirants will be scheduled for an interview after the aspirant's contact to the Committee on Priesthood affirms the aspirant is ready to go forward. Dates and locations are determined by the Committee on Priesthood.
- For those accepted for postulancy and beginning formation in fall 2023, there will be a Postulancy Formation Retreat July 21-23, 2023 at Roslyn Retreat & Conference Center in Richmond, so aspirants should save that date. (This is a retreat for postulants, not a postulancy interview date for aspirants.)
Click here to see the "Memo to Aspirants Preparing for a Postulancy Interview." An agenda and this document will be emailed to the aspirant two weeks before the interview, but aspirants should read the memo earlier than that. See especially the note about the support team (#4), as the aspirant's supporters may need more than two weeks notice in order to attend.
Postulancy Application Materials
- Postulancy Application Checklist
- Initial Application to Commission on Ministry
- Personal History & Reflections template
- Medical Examination Form
- Background Checks (Praesidium) can be initiated by following the instructions on this page.
Signing a Virtual Vestry Letter: The Vestry doesn’t have to meet in person, or run themselves ragged passing around a paper copy. The vestry should hold a Zoom meeting or conference call. At that meeting, a Vestry member offers a motion to have the vestry support for postulancy (or candidacy or ordination), the vestry votes, then the Senior Warden signs the document and writes on the document the names of all who voted in favor. The Senior Warden can then scan a copy of that form and email it to Gloria Parham (email@example.com). Then, at a later point in time when the Vestry are able to meet in person again, all can sign another physical copy for the file. (This method has been vetted and approved by the Chancellor and the Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Virginia.)
- Vestry Letter of Support for Postulancy
- Vestry Letter of Support for Candidacy
- Vestry Letter of Support for Ordination as a Deacon
- Vestry Letter of Support for Ordination as a Priest
Applying for Candidacy
Postulants apply for candidacy about midway through their formation process. Whereas postulancy interviews are primarily concerned someone's call to and innate gifts for the priesthood, candidacy interviews are primarily concerned with the progress a postulant has made in formation.
Some months prior to an interview, Sarah Kye Price will email the class interviewing for candidacy to convey information about the application, interview dates, due dates for the application. For most, candidacy interviews begin with an interview with the Committee on Priesthood some time in April or May of their middler year.
Candidacy Interview Dates
- Committee on Priesthood: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with the Committee on Priesthood at the time at which approximately 2/3 of their formation work is complete (this is often at the end of the second year of seminary for traditional MDiv students, or in the early Spring for Anglican Studies students).
- Standing Committee: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with the Standing Committee, typically learning of the date of that interview at the same time they learn of the date for their interview with the Committee on Priesthood. Standing Committee interviews may be conducted via Zoom or in person at St. George's, Fredericksburg.
- Bishop: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with the Bishop who, with a recommendation from the Committee on Priesthood and the consent of the Standing Committee, officially accepts postulants as candidates. Interviews are typically scheduled for within a month after the Standing Committee interview.
Candidacy Application Materials
Please send electronic copies to Gloria Parham (firstname.lastname@example.org). Postulants should maintain a copy of all documents for their own records.
- Candidacy Application Checklist
- Postulants should use this to track the pieces of the candidacy application.
- Naming convention: Be sure to note the naming convention for documents in the spreadsheet.
- Candidacy Application Form
- Updated Resume: Please submit an updated resume, being sure to include your internships and other accomplishments since postulancy.
- Vestry Letter of Support for Candidacy (see note above about signing during Corona-tide)
- Signed by the postulant's presenting parish, the parish that supported their application for postulancy.
- Postulants should see that this gets on the agenda for the vestry meeting prior to the due date.
- CPE: the supervisor’s evaluation and the self-evaluation.
- Field Education: the work-learning agreement, the supervisor’s evaluation, the lay committee evaluation, and the self-evaluation for each semester completed at the time of the interview. If the seminary doesn't use lay committee evaluations, note that when you submit the rest of the documents.
- Seminary Transcript and Evaluation (aka Middler Eval): postulants should be sure that their seminary will send in a recent copy of their transcript as well as their middler evaluation, if applicable.
- Mid-Atlantic Parish Training Program: most will complete Mid-Atlantic after receiving candidacy, but if a postulant has completed Mid-Atlantic out of sequence, remind Ed and Gloria so those evals can be included in the application.
- Exceptions: Postulants who have not yet completed or have been excused from anything listed above should be sure they've discussed those circumstances with Sarah and communicated that exception to Gloria for the record.
Pre-Ordination Approval, Transitional Diaconate
Before ordination, all ordinands must complete a specific set of trainings, evaluations, and forms, required by the canons of the Episcopal Church. There are four trainings, three evaluations (which must be current within 36 months of ordination), and two documents that must be submitted.
Two months prior to ordination, the diocesan office sends a memo on your behalf affirming that all requirements have been met. Unlike postulancy and candidacy, pre-ordination approval doesn't require meetings with the Committee on Priesthood, Standing Committee, or Bishop. That said, the committees or bishop may request a meeting prior to pre-ordination approval, but that tends to happen under rare/unique circumstances and will be directly communicated to you.
So long as you are already a postulant, we can reimburse reasonable costs incurred completing the trainings and re-evaluations, with the exception of the medical eval. You can submit receipts to Gloria Parham (email@example.com).
Trainings (4 Total):
- Misconduct Prevention Training (online)
- Canon Law, aka Title IV training/Constitution & Canons
- We recommend this course through CDSP, but most seminaries offer courses or trainings.
- Anti-Racism Training*
- Alcohol Abuse Awareness Training
- If you won’t complete a course/training that you believe would meet this requirement, we recommend “Alcohol the Chemical,” through the Distance Learning Center for Addiction Studies.
Timing Trainings: Proof of training is generally due to Gloria Parham 2.5 months prior to ordination. Postulants and candidates may choose to complete these trainings at any time. Be sure to save proof of your training! Postulants likely should complete misconduct prevention and anti-racism training as soon as they're able for the sake of those they will work alongside in formation.
Evaluations, current within 36 months of ordination (3 total):
- Background Check
- Medical Evaluation (using form included with postulancy application materials above)
- Psychological Re-evaluation
- Contact Gloria Parham to request the list of approved clinics, in case the approved clinics have changed since you applied for postulancy. Tell the clinic that this is a follow-up, pre-ordination evaluation.
- Marital Evals: You do not need to receive a second marital eval if that was part of your postulancy application. You do need a marital evaluation if you’ve been engaged or married since postulancy.
Timing Evaluations: Whether you'll need to re-do these depends on the date you were of your postulancy application. If you're not sure when you completed these evals, consult your postulancy application. If you're unable to find your postulancy application, email Gloria Parham to ask for the date.
- Typically 3-year M.Div. students will need to re-do these evaluations. We recommend initiating the re-evaluations the summer prior to your ordination so you're not rushing to meet the pre-ordination approval deadline (typically early January the year of your ordination).
- Typically Anglican Studies students (and others whose formation is <2 years long) won't need to re-do these evaluations.
Ordination Application Documents for Priesthood:
- Vestry Letter of Support for Ordination to (Transitional) Diaconate
- Vestry Letter of Support for Ordination to the Priesthood
- Timing: Request that this be included on the vestry agenda 4-5 months in advance of your ordination (pre-ordination approval is requested 2 months in advance).
- For the transitional diaconate: this letter comes from the Vestry of your sending parish
- For priesthood: this letter comes from the Vestry of the parish you are serving as transitional deacon
- Application for Ordination to Transitional Diaconate
- Application for Ordination as a Priest
- The date of admission to postulancy and candidacy is on the acceptance letter you received from your bishop.
- Unlike your candidacy application, this truly is just a form; there are no essays you will need to write.
- Timing: Submit this form 3 months in advance of your ordination.
- Note: the application for ordination as a priest requires you to list the cure that you will serve as a priest (this may be a stipendiary or non-stipendiary position but you must have a cure to serve before ordination)
*On Anti-Racism Training
Sacred Ground Anti-Racism Training is the preferred way to complete anti-racism training. Many seminaries and parishes offer/organize Sacred Ground Dialogue Circles. The hope is that the future clergy of the Diocese of Virginia will be equipped to effectively lead Sacred Ground and other forms of anti-racist dialogue after ordination.
- BIPOC Postulants and Candidates for the Priesthood may choose to engage forms of anti-racism training apart from Sacred Ground, especially if their only options would be all-white or majority white Circles. Please contact Sarah Kye Price to discuss the most relevant and culturally responsive options for you.
- If you are not already in Sacred Ground by the fall prior to your ordination, it’s unlikely that you’d be able to complete the 11-session course before the requirements are due, but we ask you take it at some point for your own formation.
- If Sacred Ground will be your anti-racism training, please ask one of the facilitators to email Gloria Parham confirming you completed the training and approximate dates you took the training.
- If you won’t be taking Sacred Ground as anti-racism training, contact Sarah Kye Price to discuss what courses/trainings you have taken or will take that will meet the requirement. The canons articulate anti-racism training as “the Church’s teaching on racism,” so secular anti-racism training, while valuable, might not meet the requirement alone, but that combined with relevant seminary courses/training may meet the requirement.
We are committed to holding everyone to consistent standards in anti-racism training and preparation, but ultimately the hope is to become a Church where the work of anti-racism is so intertwined with theological education, practice and church life that everyone considering entering discernment has far exceeded our current standards.
- Trainings required by the Episcopal Church: 2018 TEC Canons, Title III, Canon 8, Section 5(h)
- Alcohol Abuse Awareness: Resolution R-3 passed by the 186th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia, January 1981: “Postulants and candidates for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Virginia, prior to ordination, shall receive and demonstrate an adequate understanding of prevention, recognition, intervention and treatment of alcoholism as a spiritual, physical, emotional and social illness.”
- Evaluations required by the Episcopal Church: 2018 TEC Canons, Title III, Canon 8, Section 5 (k).